Killer instinct paying off for Huskies

Top-ranked team in Illinois eyeing State title

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By MICHAEL McCORMICK

Riverside-Brookfield was no match for OPRF's surging volleyball team last week as the Huskies won easily in two games, 25-15, 25-7, and moved up to the top spot in the state rankings.

The Huskies (13-2) were led by UCLA-bound outside hitter Sean O'Malley, who had 14 kills in the match. Chris Lewis finished with eight kills. The two were able to hit around and past the Riverside-Brookfield blockers on nearly every kill attempt.

The story of the day for the Huskies, however, was Chris Ernest and Steve Gee, the Huskies two middle-hitters.

"Our middles did the job for us," said OPRF head coach John Kasik. "They were the most important part."

Ernest and Gee had five kills apiece and also teamed up for solid blocking. Riverside-Brookfield was never able to successfully penetrate the OPRF blockers, and this was instrumental in the Huskies' large lead throughout the match.

Because RB is only in its third year as a varsity team, the Huskies were able to use this match to work on some of the things that they would like to incorporate into the offense later in the year.

"They're a beginning program, so they're not a particularly strong team," said O'Malley. "This gives us an opportunity to work on things we need to. I think that we got some good work in and hopefully we will be able to transfer that into bigger games later in the season."

The Huskies also played St. Laurence on April 13, winning 25-17, 25-9. O'Malley had eight kills in the match.

"It's hard to play teams that are that much below you," said Ernest. "It's hard to stay focused, but I think that we did and we took something from the game."

The Huskies have some lofty goals for the rest of the season.

"The goal is not to lose another match this year," said Kasik. "It's going to be tough, but it's not out of the question."

The Huskies started West Suburban (Silver) Conference play Tuesday night against Downers Grove North (after deadline). Along with winning the rest of their matches, the Huskies want to win conference, an area in which they are a perennial powerhouse.

If OPRF can sustain its dominance and win all of its remaining matches, a State championship may be in the cards, something that has eluded Kasik thus far at OPRF. The Huskies had a chance to contend last year in the State tournament, but were knocked out in the first round after drawing a tough match against Brother Rice. Due to a fairly weak regional and sectional, the team should have no trouble reaching State this year.

Along with a State championship on his mind, O'Malley also has another goal that he would like to achieve. Currently 6-foot-6-inch senior is on track to beat the all-time Illinois kills record. The record breaking mark may not be as important as a State title, but O'Malley isn't setting it aside.

"I would be lying if I said I didn't say I've had my eye on the State kills record since freshman year," he said.

The Huskies host Morton today (Wednesday, 6 p.m.) before having the weekend off. They travel to Leyden on April 26.

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